Are Donald Trump & Lester Holt Friends? The GOP Candidate Keeps Changing His Tune

NBC anchor Lester Holt and presidential candidate Donald Trump have been deeply entwined in the press lately. These two have crossed paths many times over the course of this election cycle, but with Holt hosting the first presidential debate next Monday, Trump has turned more attention to Holt. It's raised the question: Are Holt and Trump friends? It hardly seems so based on Trump's recent comments, but it's not so simple.

Like a young kid vying for the attention of their older sibling, Trump has taken every tactic to get Holt's attention. He has been complimentary, he's insulted him, and he's even shown concern for the newsman. Trump seems to be trying to simultaneously fluster Holt and curry favor with him, classic frenemy tactics.

On Monday, as part of a larger complaint about how the debates were supposedly stacked again him, Trump told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, "Look, it's a phony system. Lester is a Democrat. I mean, they are all Democrats. Okay? It's a very unfair system." In fact, it's been well-reported that Holt is a registered Republican.

A day later, Trump was signing a different tune. At a rally in North Carolina, Trump said, "I think Lester Holt will be very fair." However, he also added the qualification (threat?), "...but a lot of people will be watching to see if that's true."

Trump seems to be preemptively preparing for the reviews of his debate performance to be negative — and he has every reason to believe that Holt won't lob softballs at him at Hofstra University.

Appearing on NBC's Nightly News, which Holt hosts, hasn't been a cakewalk for Trump over the last few months. In June, Holt took Trump to task, pressing him on unfounded comments he made about his presidential rival Hillary Clinton. Consider this exchange, the transcript courtesy of Media Matters:

HOLT: You made some very bold claims about her that didn't stand up when we put it --

TRUMP: Well, you don't know if they stand up. What claim are you talking about?

HOLT: Well, let's talk about your claim she was asleep during the Benghazi attack.

TRUMP: He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.

TRUMP: Were you there? Were you there? Were you with her?

HOLT: She has testified before the committee that she wasn't asleep, it happened during the daytime. There's no evidence.

TRUMP: It happened all during the day and the story was going on for a long period of time --

HOLT: I guess what I'm asking, what are you -- what do you base that on?

TRUMP: Excuse me, wait, it went on for a long period of time and she was asleep at the wheel, whether she was sleeping or not, who knows if she was sleeping --

HOLT: You said she was sleeping.

Holt seems to be good at trapping Trump in a lie and holding him to account for it. It's not clear what Trump's game plan is for the debate, but I bet we'll see his opinion of Holt change a few more times.